Tom Clyde: A new ski season begins with old legs
Ski season is off to a strong start, with lots of good skiing open and conditions that are generally better than we ever had last year. What a difference a little snow can make. I skidded through last winter’s ice on a pair of skis that were designed for soft snow, if not entirely powder. They are good in everything, but on the hardpack, they leave a little to be desired. Like the ability to turn. So based on last year’s experience, I popped for a pair of skis that are more front-side specific. They’re supposed to be great on the hardpack, and able to hold their own in the powder. The combination seemed like a good mix, and the price on last year’s model was irresistible.
I started out this year on my new skis. The first few runs were absolutely terrible. They were on mostly artificial snow because the storms hadn’t hit yet. The skis were un-turnable. After a few runs, they began to work as whatever chewing gum wax was on them from the factory wore off. But as conditions improved, my skiing really didn’t. The new boards were a disappointment.
I switched back to the powder skis, in large part because there was powder to ski in, but also just to see if the problem was the new skis, or — and this is an extremely remote possibility — the problems were not with the equipment. The day on the powder skis, in powder, was not materially better than the previous day on the new skis. The snow was perfect, so I couldn’t blame it on the conditions. Having ruled out equipment, conditions, and planetary alignment, there was no avoiding it. The only conclusion was that a couple of weeks on Claimjumper had not whipped me into condition for powdery moguls on Newport.
It would be easy to blame myself. There was a longer than reasonable lag between putting the bike away and getting the skis out. There was other stuff that needed doing. Walking the dogs maybe doesn’t qualify as strength training, though I’ve had to keep the fat lab on a leash because he has been chasing things. So every walk is a pretty good upper-body workout with him tugging in all directions. But it apparently didn’t get me in top form for ski season. All those phone calls from people trying to sell me Medicare Supplement insurance plans didn’t really help (and I’m not eligible yet, so leave me alone already!). So it could be my fault, but I probably need new boots.
I’m going to blame it on Trump. I’m not sure what he’s done to throw my skiing off, but it’s certainly his fault. I can’t sleep worth a darn, and that is entirely his doing (or maybe if I didn’t watch “Rachel Maddow” right before turning off the lights, there would be less to worry about, like Trump’s pal Mohammad el Bone Saw dissecting journalists).
Anyway, it’s still great to be back on quality snow and good terrain, even if the legs are letting me down.
The other day, on one of my ski-conditioning dog walks, I was looking for bald eagles along the river. They’ve been around for a while now. For years, there has always been one roosting in a dead cottonwood right across from my house. Not a bad way to start the morning, looking out the window at a bald eagle drying its feathers in the sunrise. I see eagles cruising up and down the river, almost at eye level when I’m on the road along the bank. This walk had been disappointingly eagle free. Then, right after giving up and turning around, an eagle flew out of the woods on the dry-land side of the road. It came from behind me, over my shoulder. It was so close I could hear the whoosh of air as it flapped its wings. Now I know exactly what my maximum heart rate is.
We have a debate in the neighborhood about whether we have river otters or not. A couple of people swear they have seen actual otters while fishing. I’m certain I saw otter slide tracks in the snow last winter, and again this year. But the official word from the state wildlife people is that there are no otters upstream of Jordanelle. That’s their story and they are sticking with it. So some of the neighbors dismiss the otter tracks as being some other critter, perhaps an obese mink, or a skinny beaver that walks with its tail up in the air. But they are otter tracks. There’s no way to set up a game camera in the middle of the river, so we just have to take it on faith.
That’s the approach I’m taking on my ski technique, too. It will happen.
Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.
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